Sliver (Unrated) Studio: Paramount Home Video Year: 2006 (1993 Release) Rated: Unrated (violence, drug content, sexuality and nudity) Aspect Ratio: 2.10:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays (see Video section) Audio: English DD 5.1; English 2.0 surround; French 2.0 surround Subtitles: English Time: 107 minutes Disc Format: DVD-9 Case Style: Keep case DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006 Spring boarding from the success of “Basic Instinct”, Joe Eszterhas took another stab (sorry, couldn’t resist that pun) at the thriller genre with “Sliver”, loosely based on Ira Levin’s novel. Sharon Stone plays Carly Norris, an inner city, 90’s, can-do type of gal who has recently divorced. She’s confident in her job and she is eager to find a new, long-term relationship. Carly finds a new apartment whose previous tenant was thrown from the balcony. She quickly begins attracting the attention of the males in the building, including Billy Baldwin’s Zeke and Tom Berenger’s Jack (who she also has business dealings with in the publishing world). After a rather intense work out, Carly and Zeke head back to his place for a little more “intense action”, if you catch my drift. Carly finds herself involved in a physical relationship with Zeke, which is driven by his deep-rooted psychological issues. Zeke is a voyeur, and he has the $6 million dollar set-up to prove it. We learn Zeke owns the building they live in, and he has wired each apartment so he may sit in his control room and watch the going’s on of each of his tenants. While Zeke and Carly’s relationship intensifies, Jack’s irritation grows; he is intent on getting Carly for himself. Jack also has a few other problems that turn out to have more relevance in the overall story of “Sliver”. As Carly delves deeper into her relationship with Zeke, she learns that watching has its consequences, often with painful and violent ends. “Sliver” is certainly a product of its time (with its references to Pearl Jam and Dr. Ruth) and it does not hold up that well. In thinking back to when I saw the picture in 1993, it didn’t really hold up too well then, either. Eszterhas is obviously the most frustrated Hitchcock wanna-be in recent memory, and he seems to think if Hitch were alive today he’d be making C grade, soft-core porn. “Sliver” owes a huge thanks to “Rear Window” for the basic idea (voyeurism), but that’s as far as it goes. I did like the cocktail party scene, which is reminiscent of pictures from days gone by: what better way to learn about your characters quickly than throwing them all in a room and allowing them to mingle. Hitch used it for an entire movie (“Rope”), but “Sliver’s paper thin characters can barely maintain it for three minutes. This “un-rated” version, which originally saw its release in overseas markets, seems tame by today’s standards, but at least it is now on DVD and the format can breath a sigh of relief. One would hope there would be some redemption in the actors playing the roles, but that doesn’t even happen. Stone, Baldwin and Berenger plod through their lines and barely show any excitement when the scenes turn racy. “Sliver” falls in league with some fine offerings you’ll find on Cinemax about two in the morning. In most cases, the Cinemax actors try harder and you wish they were getting the $2.5 million Stone earned for this role. An interesting thing popped out at me while watching “Sliver” now: Zeke makes a speech about watching real life unfold when he shows Carly the room of monitors. He asks her what is more interesting than watching the lives of everyday people. While I don’t ascribe any precognitive abilities on either Levin or Eszterhas, you could view “Sliver” as a harbinger to reality TV, albeit distorted through a lousy movie. As I scan through the 200 or so channels I’ve got, I usually stop at anything to do with fixing a house or daring a guy to eat a Buick. In 2006, maybe I would be more interested in what my neighbors are doing as opposed to seeing what’s happening on Wysteria Lane. Video: This picture was originally shot at 2.35:1. The DVD appears to be somewhere around 2.10 or 2.20, and it is anamorphically enhanced. I am unsure why Paramount has decided to mess with the OAR and I will contact them to see if they can provide me with a reason. Edge enhancement is evident throughout the picture and it is overbearing in some scenes. Colors are fair, but they go through a range of saturation levels depending on the needs of the scene. The picture is hazy in places and fine detail is lost in both the fore- and backgrounds. Occasional close-ups of the actors show some more detail, but they still lack the quality of some of today’s finer releases. Black levels are fine and they show adequate detail. ADDENDUM on 3/28/06: Paramount let me know the change from 2.35:1 to 2.10:1 was done at the request of director Phillip Noyce. Audio: The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is fair, but dated. I was able to pick out ADR and studio foley effects quite easily. It also sounds very canned at times and there are bad echo effects, as if they were using an MP3 encoded at 96k instead of 320k. As would be expected, the LFE was rarely engaged with a large majority of the soundtrack, even with the music, staying in the mid and high ranges. The soundtrack provides a fairly good sound field and it uses the surrounds for some ambient effect, placing you in the center of the soundstage. Bonus Material: None, not even a lousy EPK or bios of the cast. Heck, I’d even settle for a trailer. Or better yet, a commentary from Eszterhas ripping into the movie since he has said he hates it. Conclusions: I spent some time looking for a previous release of “Sliver” on DVD for comparison, but it turns out there wasn’t one. Based on the issues with the video and lack of extras, I wish Paramount would have waited a little while longer to put this one out.